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Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Snowboard cross

Snowboard cross, which made its Olympic debut in Turin 2006, has a similar race format to BMX, with riders tackling a course studded with jumps, bumps and huge turns as they battle to reach the finish first.

At first sight, the event is reminiscent of the Wacky Races, but competitors are not allowed to push or bump each other out of the way.

HOW THE COMPETITION UNFOLDS

For the first two runs, riders compete on their own against the clock, and the top 32 go through.

That is when it gets interesting, as the riders then race in groups of four, with the top two in each heat going through to the next round until just four are left to contest the final.

The course is marked by red and blue gates, and triangular flags mark the entrances to the obstacles.

Jumps vary from straight (kickers) to those on an angle (spines), and there are also huge banked corners and even moguls to negotiate.

The optimum line into the obstacles is very narrow, and the jockeying for position can often lead to crashes.

Snowboard diagram

The choice of board for snowboard cross varies.

Some riders prefer the freestyle boards used in the halfpipe but use a slightly longer and stiffer model to generate more straight-line speed.

They wear soft boots and soft bindings to give them freedom to adjust quickly to the obstacles on the course.

Others favour the alpine boards used in the parallel slalom.

These are less flexible and are worn with hard boots, but they can offer more speed on fast sections of the course.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Snowboarding in the UK is possible at a number of venues indoors and out.

It might not be quite the same thing as riding on a mountain but you can snowboard at three indoor slopes in England and at loads of dry ski slopes.

When it comes to the real thing there are loads of resorts to choose from in Europe which are no more than a short flight away.

For more information about snowboarding in the UK, check out the Snowsport GB website.



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